Everything I Didn’t Say

Everything I Didn’t Say

Ella Henderson’s second album arrives more than seven years after her chart-topping debut, Chapter One. Everything I Didn’t Say is a collection of soulful pop songs that chart her journey into adulthood. And it has been quite a bumpy ride. Back in 2014—after becoming an X Factor sensation hailed as “absolutely incredible” by Adele—the English singer-songwriter was catapulted to global fame with the hit single “Ghost.” “We all knew it was a great song, but I had no idea it would change my life,” Henderson tells Apple Music. “I spent the next three years flying around the world, performing and promoting it. And when that came to an end, I didn’t really know what to do.” Most crushingly, she realized she had, as she says, “no actual life experience” to pour into new material. “Who the hell is going to relate to me singing about getting off another plane and driving to another hotel room?” she says. Henderson has since amassed a lot of things to write about. Everything I Didn’t Say features songs about grappling with mental health struggles, rebounding from a toxic relationship, and rebuilding her shattered self-worth. It’s a richly emotional listen with surprising musical nods to Stevie Nicks and Tame Impala, plus moments of levity like “Let’s Go Home Together,” her witty 2021 duet with Tom Grennan. “Music was always my passion and I’ve made it my passion again,” she says. “I feel like I have all my ducks in a row. I’ve never been in such a healthy place to put out an album.” Read on as Henderson guides through her comeback record, one track at a time. “Emotions” “I wrote this song with Jordan Riley, a young producer from Newcastle who’s one of my closest friends now. He has a studio at the end of his garden that’s become my sanctuary. This song is really about how, sometimes, I’m my own worst enemy, because sometimes I can get in my head and stop myself from being the best version of me.” “What About Us” “Me, Jordan, and Rob Harvey—one of my favorite writers—went into the studio after dinner one night and Jordan started playing this beat. I ended up singing about my breakup and it became ‘What About Us.’ Rob’s a very guitar-led writer, so this song started out sounding a bit like Stevie Nicks, but I love what Jordan has done with the production. It now has this kind of trippy disco vibe that sounds like nothing else on the album; it’s actually a bit Tame Impala.” “Ugly” “It’s about a huge turning point in my life, so I had to include it on the album. I was photographed in a bikini on the beach [by a paparazzo], and it got printed in the papers. At the time, I felt so ashamed of myself for the way I looked. But I never signed up to be a model or this perfect person. I’ve been on a huge journey of building self-worth since then. Now I’m in my mid-twenties—I feel confident enough to share the message in this song.” “Let’s Go Home Together” (feat. Tom Grennan) “As soon as James Arthur and I wrote this song, we knew it was special. It was just a case of waiting for the right time to put it out. And then, when the UK went into lockdown, it was like, ‘Oh, my god, the pubs are closed. What are we going to do?’ And I remember thinking that this song would really connect at that moment in time. James wasn’t available and I wanted a real ‘Jack the Lad’ type who loves going to the pub and is covered in shit tattoos—literally what it says in the lyrics. And the only person I could think of was Tom Grennan. He loved the song straight away and said, ‘You just thought of my shitty tattoos, didn’t you, mate?’ We still laugh about that now.” “Brave” “Me, Jordan, and [songwriter and producer] Jennifer Decilveo wrote this song years ago. I wrote it for a member of my family, to tell them I would always be there for them. But in the last 18 months, when I started playing this song again, it was honestly like I’d written it when I was younger for myself [to listen to] now. It’s a song that made me feel more hopeful about my struggles with mental health. I thought someone else out there might need to hear it as well.” “Out My Head” “I wrote this song on Zoom with [British songwriter] Olivia Sebastianelli, who I call my writing soul sister. We’re like chalk and cheese: I’m this bubbly soulful northerner, and she’s this gothy rocky southerner, but in lots of ways we have the same outlook on life. I said to Olivia, ‘I really want to get the word “narcissist” into a song.’ Because we would always call my ex the ‘king narcissist.’ And we managed it in verse two.” “Thank You for the Hell” “I wanted to write a ‘fuck you’ record without actually saying, ‘Fuck you.’ Every lyric in this song was my reality during a terrible relationship. I was so nervous about playing it to my parents because I mentioned them in the line ‘And my mum and dad have been worried for my health.’ But they were really proud of me for writing this song and reaching where I am now.” “Sorry That I Miss You” “This is about an incident where I got really drunk on tequila with Rudimental and said a load of shit that I didn’t mean to my ex. It was cool to tell that story from a girl’s perspective. I’m kind of holding my hands up and saying, ‘You know what? I can be an absolute bitch sometimes, but I’m gonna own it.’” “Everything I Didn’t Say” “This song is me opening up and telling my fans everything that I went through. I’m owning up to everything and accepting my flaws, so it made perfect sense as an album title.” “Bad News” “I just thought it would be really funny to list off everyone who didn’t approve [of my ex] in the first place. And honestly, it really made me laugh when we came up with the lyric ‘I’ve gone through seven months of therapy, and the doctor says the issue is you and I should forward the bill onto you.’ Because it’s the truth.” “Cry on Me” (feat. Mikky Ekko) “I was so excited to work with Mikky Ekko because he did one of my favorite songs of all time: ‘Stay’ with Rihanna. Earlier in the day, we wrote an uptempo song which we felt wasn’t amazing, so we took a break for dinner and came back to the studio pretty late. The tequila came out and we ended up writing this duet together, sat at the piano. At that point in my life, I felt like I was quite a difficult person to be in a relationship with because of what I do for a living. So, when Mikky wrote the lyric ‘And I know our life is like a circus, but I don’t do it on purpose,’ it was like he delved right into my brain.” “Good Things Take Time” “This is the most uptempo song on the album; all my mates ask me to play it when they come over! It’s about realizing that the glass is half full, not half empty. It’s about me falling back in love with what I do and letting go of any darkness I was holding onto.” “Northern Lights” “This song is definitely me having my Stevie Nicks ‘Landslide’ moment. It’s about me falling in love again, but at the same time, being terrified to do so. My fella [Jack Burnell] was an Olympic swimmer and the idea for this song came to me while I was driving to Loughborough, where he used to train. We’re both northern, so it’s a nod to him but also to my roots. Going back up north and spending time with my family was a really big part of my recovery.” “Set in Stone” “I was doing a writing camp for my album when Rob Harvey got a call to say his uncle had died. I was like, ‘Let’s take the day off.’ But he picked up his guitar and started playing these beautiful chords, and we came up with the melodies together. When we came to record the last chorus, this sunray beamed right into the recording booth and hit Rob’s hand where he was playing the guitar. I looked at my arm and had goose bumps all over. As soon as we finished the song, we both started crying because it was such a special moment.” “Body” “I recorded this song a few years ago. It came from us talking about how scary it is to get intimate with someone when you’re not the most body-confident person. We wanted to write a song about two human beings coming together in their soul, not just in a physical way.” “Places” “This song ends the album on a really hopeful note. I got with my fella during lockdown, so we spent loads of time talking about the places we’d love to go together. And this is about wanting to take on the world together: ‘I’ve got you, you’ve got me, let’s do it.’”

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